City pays $350,000 after suing “hackers” for opening Dropbox link it sent them

City pays $350,000 after suing “hackers” for opening Dropbox link it sent them

Enlarge (credit: Geographer / Wikimedia Commons)

The city of Fullerton, California, has agreed to pay $350,000 to settle a lawsuit it brought against two bloggers it accused of hacking the city’s Dropbox account.

Joshua Ferguson and David Curlee frequently made public record requests in the course of covering city government for a local blog, Friends for Fullerton’s Future. The city used Dropbox to fulfill large file requests, and in response to a June 6, 2019, request for records related to police misconduct, Ferguson and Curlee were sent a link to a Dropbox folder containing a password-protected zip file. 

But a city employee also sent them a link to a more general “Outbox” shared folder that contained potential records request documents that had not yet been reviewed by the city attorney. The folder wasn’t password protected or access restricted. At the time, there were 19 zip files in the outbox, five of which were not password protected. 

Read 5 remaining paragraphs | Comments

#dropbox, #freedom-of-speech, #freedom-of-the-press, #policy, #public-records

0

Notarize raises $130M, tripling valuation on the back of 600% YoY revenue growth

When the world shifted toward virtual one year ago, one service in particular saw heated demand: digital notary services.

The ability to get a document notarized without leaving one’s home suddenly became more of a necessity than a luxury. Pat Kinsel, founder and CEO of Boston-based Notarize, worked to get appropriate legislation passed across the country to make it possible for more people in more states to use remote online notarization (RON) services. 

That hard work has paid off. Today, Notarize has announced $130 million in Series D funding led by fintech-focused VC firm Canapi Ventures after experiencing 600% year over year revenue growth. The round values Notarize at $760 million, which is triple its valuation at the time of its $35 million Series C in March of 2020. This latest round is larger than the sum of all of the company’s previous rounds to date, and brings Notarize’s total raised to $213 million since its 2015 inception.

A slew of other investors participated in the round, including Alphabet’s independent growth fund CapitalG, Citi Ventures, Wells Fargo, True Bridge Capital Partners and existing backers Camber Creek, Ludlow Ventures, NAR’s Second Century Ventures, and Fifth Wall Ventures.

Notarize insists that it “isn’t just a notary company.” Rather, Canapi Ventures Partner Neil Underwood described it as the ‘last mile’ of businesses (such as iBuyers, for example). 

The company has also evolved to “also bring trust and identity verification” into those businesses’ processes.

Over the past year, Notarize has seen a massive increase in transactions and inked new partnerships with companies such as Adobe, Dropbox, Stripe and Zillow Group, among others. It’s seen big spikes in demand from the real estate, financial services, retail and automotive sectors.

“In 2020, the world rushed to digitize. Online commerce ballooned, and businesses in almost every industry needed to transition to digital basically overnight so they could continue uninterrupted,” Kinsel said. “Notarize was there to help them safely close these deals with trust and convenience.”  

The company plans to use its new capital to expand its platform and product and scale “to serve enterprises of all sizes.” It also plans to double down on hiring in the next year.

“Notarize is disrupting outdated business models and technologies, and there’s massive potential, particularly in the financial services space, as more companies will need to offer secure digital alternatives to in-person transactions,” Canapi’s Underwood said.

Notarize’s success comes after a difficult 2019, when the company saw “critical financing” fall through and had to lay off staff, according to Kinsel. Talk about a turnaround story.

#boston, #camber-creek, #canapi-ventures, #capitalg, #ceo, #citi-ventures, #dropbox, #fifth-wall, #finance, #financial-services, #funding, #fundings-exits, #law, #ludlow-ventures, #notarize, #online-commerce, #pat-kinsel, #real-estate, #recent-funding, #startups, #stripe, #venture-capital, #wells-fargo, #zillow

0

The Roblox final fantasy

Hello friends, and welcome to Week in Review.

Last week, I talked a bit about NFTs and their impact on artists. If you’re inundated with NFT talk just take one quick look at this story I wrote this week about the $69 million sale of Beeple’s photo collage. This hype cycle is probably all the result of crypto folks talking each other up and buying each other’s stuff, but that doesn’t mean there won’t be lasting impacts. That said, I would imagine we’re pretty close to the peak of this wave, with a larger one down the road after things cool off a bit. I’ve been wrong before though…

This week, I’m interested in a quick look at what your kids have been talking about all these years. Yes, Roblox.

If you’re reading this on the TechCrunch site, you can get this in your inbox from the newsletter page, and follow my tweets @lucasmtny.


David Baszucki, founder and CEO of Roblox - Roblox Developer Conference 2019

(Photo by Ian Tuttle/Getty Images for Roblox)

The big thing

Roblox went public on the New York Stock Exchange this week, scoring a $38 billion market cap after its first couple days of trading.

Investors rallied around the idea that Roblox is one of the most valuable gaming companies in existence. More than Unity, Zynga, Take-Two, even gaming giant Electronic Arts. It’s still got a ways to go to take down Microsoft, Sony or Apple though… The now-public company is so freaking huge because investors believe the company has tapped into something that none of the others have, a true interconnected creative marketplace where gamers can evolve alongside an evolving library of experiences that all share the same DNA (and in-game currency).

The gaming industry has entered a very democratic stride as cross-play tears down some of the walls of gaming’s platform dynamics. Each hardware platform that operates an app store of their own still has the keys to a kingdom, but it’s a shifting world with uncertainty ahead. While massive publishers have tapped cloud gaming as the trend that will string their blockbuster franchises together, they all wish they were in Roblox’s position. The gaming industry has seen plenty of Goliath’s in its day, but for every major MMO to strike it rich, it’s still just another winner in a field of disparate hits with no connective tissue.

Roblox is different, and while many of us still have the aged vision of the image above: a bunch of rudimentary Minecraft/Playmobile-looking mini-games, Roblox’s game creation tools are advancing quickly and developers are building photorealistic games that are wider in ambition and scope than before. As the company levels-up the age range it appeals to — both by holding its grasp on aging gamers on its platform and using souped-up titles to appeal to a new-generation — there’s a wholly unique platform opportunity here: the chance to have the longevity of an app store but with the social base layer that today’s cacophony of titles have never shared.

Whether or not Roblox is the “metaverse” that folks in the gaming world have been hyping, it certainly looks more like it than any other modern gaming company does.


SHENYANG, CHINA – MARCH 08: Customers try out iPhone 12 smartphones at an Apple store on March 8, 2021 in Shenyang, Liaoning Province of China. (Photo by VCG/VCG via Getty Images)

Other things

Apple releases some important security patches
It was honestly a pretty low-key week of tech news, I’ll admit, but folks in the security world might not totally buy that characterization. This week, Apple released some critical updates for its devices, fixing a Safari vulnerability that could allow attackers to run malicious code on a user’s unpatched devices. Update your stuff, y’all.

TikTok gets proactive on online bullying
New social media platforms have had the benefit of seeing the easy L’s that Facebook teed itself up for. For TikTok, its China connection means that there’s less room for error when it comes to easily avoidable losses. The team announced some new anti-bullying features aimed at cutting down on toxicity in comment feeds.

Dropbox buys DocSend
Cloud storage giants are probably in need of a little reinvention, the enterprise software boom of the pandemic has seemed to create mind-blowing amounts of value for every SaaS company except these players. This week, Dropbox made a relatively big bet on document sharing startup DocSend. It’s seemingly a pretty natural fit for them, but can they turn in into a bigger opportunity?

Epic Games buys photogrammetry studio
As graphics cards and consoles have hit new levels of power, games have had to satisfy desired for more details and complexity. It takes a wild amount of time to create 3D assets with that complexity so plenty of game developers have leaned on photogrammetry which turns a series of photos or scans of a real world object or environment into a 3D model. This week, Epic Games bought one of the better known software makers in this space, called Capturing Reality, with the aim of integrating the tech into future versions of their game engine.

Twitter Spaces launches publicly next month
I’ve spent some more time with Twitter Spaces this week and am growing convinced that it has a substantial chance to kneecap Clubhouse’s growth. Twitter is notoriously slow to roll out products, but it seems they’ve been hitting the gas on Spaces, announcing this week that it will be available widely by next month.

Seth Rogen starts a weed company
There’s a lot of money in startups, there’s really never been a better time to get capital for a project… if you know the right people and have the right kind of expertise. Seth Rogen and weed are a pretty solid mental combo and him starting a weed company shouldn’t be a big shock.


A Coupang Corp. delivery truck drives past a company's fulfillment center in Bucheon, South Korea, on Friday, Feb. 19, 2021. South Korean e-commerce giant Coupang filed for an initial public offering in the U.S. and that could raise billions of dollars to battle rivals and kick off a record year for IPOs in the Asian country. Photographer: SeongJoon Cho/Bloomberg via Getty Images

SeongJoon Cho/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Extra things

Some of my favorite reads from our Extra Crunch subscription service this week:

Coupang follows Roblox to a strong first day of trading
“Another day brings another public debut of a multibillion-dollar company that performed well out of the gate.This time it’s Coupang, whose shares are currently up just over 46% to more than $51 after pricing at $35, $1 above the South Korean e-commerce giant’s IPO price range. Raising one’s range and then pricing above it only to see the public markets take the new equity higher is somewhat par for the course when it comes to the most successful recent debuts, to which we can add Coupang.” More

How nontechnical talent can break into deep tech
“Startup hiring processes can be opaque, and breaking into the deep tech world as a nontechnical person seems daunting. As someone with no initial research background wanting to work in biotech, I felt this challenge personally. In the past year, I landed several opportunities working for and with deep tech companies. More

Does your VC have an investment thesis or a hypothesis?
“Venture capitalists love to talk investment theses: on Twitter, Medium, Clubhouse, at conferences. And yet, when you take a closer look, theses are often meaningless and/or misleading…” More


Once more, if you liked reading this, you can get it in your inbox from the newsletter page, and follow my tweets @lucasmtny.

#apple, #apple-inc, #china, #cloud-gaming, #computing, #coupang, #docsend, #dropbox, #electronic-arts, #epic-games, #extra-crunch, #facebook, #gamer, #getty, #getty-images, #iphone, #microsoft, #online-games, #roblox, #smartphones, #software, #sony, #tc, #technology, #twitter, #week-in-review, #zynga

0

Can you beat Google with Google’s brains?

Hello and welcome back to Equity, TechCrunch’s venture capital-focused podcast, where we unpack the numbers behind the headlines.

Natasha and Danny and Alex and Grace were all here to chat through the week’s biggest tech happenings. Like every week, we had to leave a lot of great stuff on the cutting-room floor. But, we did get to touch on a bunch of news that we feel really matters.

Also we do wind up talking about a few Extra Crunch pieces, which is where our deeper analysis on news items lives. If the paywall is a bother, you can get access while saving 50% with the code “EQUITY.”

Here’s what we got into:

  • Crypto-art and the NFT boom continue. Check out what Beeple just did. Danny has an opinion on the matter.
  • The Roblox direct-listing does very little actually solve the IPO pricing issue. That said, well done Bloxburg.
  • We talked about the Coursera S-1, which gave us the first financial peek into an education company revitalized by the pandemic.
  • The numbers needed context, so our follow up coverage gives readers 5 takeaways from the Coursera IPO.
  • Language learning has a market, and it’s big. We talked about Preply’s $35 million raise and why tutoring marketplaces make sense.
  • Dropbox is buying DocSend, which makes pretty good sense. Even if the exit price won’t matter much for bigger funds. We’re still witnessing Dropbox and Box add more features to their product via acquisitions. Let’s see how it impacts their revenue growth.
  • Zapier buys Makerpad. We struggled to pronounce Zapier, but did have some notes on the deal and what it might mean for the no-code space.
  • Sticking the acquisition theme, PayPal bought Curv. If you were looking for more evidence that big companies are taking crypto seriously, well, here it is.
  • And to close we nerded out about Neeva. Can a Google-competitor take on Google if it was founded by ex-Googlers?

The show is back Monday morning. Stay cool!

Equity drops every Monday at 7:00 a.m. PST, Wednesday, and Friday at 6:00 AM PST, so subscribe to us on Apple PodcastsOvercastSpotify and all the casts!

#beeple, #coupang, #coursera, #crypto, #curv, #docsend, #dropbox, #equity, #equity-podcast, #fundings-exits, #google, #makerpad, #neeva, #nft, #paypal, #preply, #roblox, #startups, #tc, #zapier

0

Daily Crunch: Dropbox acquires DocSend for $165M

Dropbox acquires a secure document-sharing startup, Sonos announces a new speaker and Google makes hotel listings free. This is your Daily Crunch for March 9, 2021.

The big story: Dropbox acquires DocSend for $165M

Dropbox already acquired electronic signature company HelloSign in 2019. By acquiring DocSend — which allows customers to share and track documents using a secure link — it’s giving its platform an end-to-end, secure document-sharing workflow.

“We’re announcing that we’re acquiring DocSend to help us deliver an even broader set of tools for remote work, and DocSend helps customers securely manage and share their business-critical documents, backed by powerful engagement analytics,” said Dropbox CEO Drew Houston.

One thing the two companies have in common: Both of them launched, years apart, at TechCrunch events.

The tech giants

Sonos goes full portable Bluetooth speaker with the $169 Roam — The smaller, lighter, more ruggedized and waterproof design puts it more in line with popular offerings from companies like JBL.

After similar moves for Shopping and Flights, Google makes hotel listings free — This change should give users a more comprehensive look into hotel room availability.

French startup lobby targets Apple with ‘privacy hypocrisy’ complaint — Apple is facing another privacy complaint in Europe.

Startups, funding and venture capital

Wefarm adds $11M to expand its network for independent farmers, now at 2.5M users — The startup has built a social networking platform to help independent farmers meet each other, exchange ideas and sell or trade equipment and supplies.

Entertainment payroll startup Wrapbook raises $27M round led by a16z — The money comes from noteworthy names in both the tech and entertainment worlds.

Eye surgery robotics startup ForSight raises $10M — ForSight looks to bring its offerings to international markets, pending the sorts of regulatory approvals that go into launching a robotic surgery platform.

Advice and analysis from Extra Crunch

Four ways startups will drive GPT-3 adoption in 2021 — The introduction of GPT-3 in 2020 was a tipping point for artificial intelligence.

Global-e files to go public as e-commerce startups enjoy a renaissance — The company’s business exploded in 2020.

(Extra Crunch is our membership program, which helps founders and startup teams get ahead. You can sign up here.)

Everything else

Memes for sale — We talk to Chris Torres, the Nyan Cat creator who has organized an informal collection of meme originators into a two-week-long auction of their works.

Backstage Capital’s Arlan Hamilton discusses how to find the next unicorn — Hamilton joined us at TC: Sessions Justice to chat about how she vets founders, the changing role of venture capital and how raising money from the community versus institutional LPs can impact Backstage strategy.

The Daily Crunch is TechCrunch’s roundup of our biggest and most important stories. If you’d like to get this delivered to your inbox every day at around 3pm Pacific, you can subscribe here.

#docsend, #dropbox, #tc

0

Dropbox to acquire secure document sharing startup DocSend for $165M

Dropbox announced today that it plans to acquire DocSend for $165 million The company helps customers share and track documents by sending a secure link instead of an attachment.

“We’re announcing that we’re acquiring DocSend to help us deliver an even broader set of tools for remote work, and DocSend helps customers securely manage and share their business critical documents, backed by powerful engagement analytics,” Houston told me.

When combined with the electronic signature capability of HelloSign, which Dropbox acquired in 2019, the acquisition gives the company an end-to-end document sharing workflow it had been missing. “Dropbox, DocSend and HelloSign will be able to offer a full suite of self-serve products to help our millions of customers manage the entire critical document workflows and give more control over all aspects of that,” Houston explained.

Houston and DocSend co-founder and CEO Russ Heddleston have known each for other years, and have an established relationship. In fact, Heddleston worked for Dropbox as a summer in intern in 2010. He even ran the idea for the company by Houston prior to launching in 2013, who gave it his seal of approval, and the two companies have been partners for some time.

“We’ve just been following the thread of external sending, which has just kind of evolved and opened up into all these different workflows. And it’s just really interesting that by just being laser focused on that we’ve been able to create a really differentiated product that users love a ton,” Heddleston said.

Those workflows include creative, sales, client services or startups using DocSend to deliver proposals or pitch decks and track engagement. In fact, among the earliest use cases for the company was helping startups track engagement with their pitch decks at VC firms.

The company raised a modest amount of the money along the way, just $15.3 million, according to Crunchbase, but Heddleston says that he wanted to build a company that was self-sufficient and raising more VC dollars was never a priority or necessity. “We had [VCs] chase us to give us more money all the time, and what we would tell our employees is that we don’t keep count based on money raised or headcount. It’s just about building a great company,” he said.

That builder’s attitude was one of the things that attracted Houston to the company. “We’re big believers in the model of product growth and capital efficiency, and building really intuitive products that are viral, and that’s a lot of what what attracted us to DocSend,” Houston said. While DocSend has 17,000 customers, Houston says the acquisition gives the company the opportunity to get in front of a much larger customer base as part of Dropbox.

It’s worth noting that Box offers a similar secure document sharing capability enabling users to share a link instead of using an attachment. It recently bought e-signature startup SignRequest for $55 million with an eye toward building more complex document workflows similar to what Dropbox now has with HelloSign and DocSend. PandaDoc is another competitor in this space.

Both Dropbox and SendDoc participated in the TechCrunch Disrupt Battlefield with Houston debuting Dropbox in 2008 at the TechCrunch 50, the original name of the event. Meanwhile, DocSend participated in 2014 at TechCrunch Disrupt in New York City.

DocSend’s approximately 50 employees will be joining Dropbox when the deal closes, which should happen soon, subject to standard regulatory oversight.

#cloud, #docsend, #drew-houston, #dropbox, #enterprise, #exit, #fundings-exits, #ma, #mergers-and-acquisitions, #saas, #secure-file-sharing, #startups, #tc

0

Fintech startup Vise brings on Andrew Fong (formerly Dropbox) as CTO

Vise, a fintech firm that focuses on helping financial advisors rather than automating them out of existence, has today announced that its bringing on Andrew Fong as its Chief Technology Officer.

Fong hails from Dropbox, where he served as VP of Infrastructure Engineering. He actually started out as a Site Reliability Engineer at Dropbox back in 2012 climbing the ranks to Engineering Director, and then Senior Director of Engineering – Head of Infrastructure before becoming to vice president.

Before Dropbox, Fong was an engineer at YouTube and Aol.

Vise brought on Fong to scale up its technical team following its most recent fundraise, a $45 million in Series B led by Sequoia Capital. In total, Vise has raised $63 million since launching on the TC Disrupt stage in 2019.

You can check out the video of their demo here.

Vise uses AI to support financial advisors in their relationships with clients, giving them the ability to justify and explain (with data) the reason for making this or that investment, as well as the ability to customize a portfolio quickly.

Top of mind for Fong is scaling up the engineering department from 20 people to 75 by the end of the year, and Fong explained that diversity, equity and inclusion must be front and center in that endeavor.

“Vise is in the early stages of building out its engineering organization,” Fong told TechCrunch. “It’s imperative that we weave in DEI as a first principle to our recruiting at this stage and ensure we are maturing our processes with DEI in mind.”

At Dropbox, Fong started out as a team leader building a team of 40 and by the time he left, led a team of more than 250 people. He explained that he learned a lot during that 8+ year period, and made a lot of mistakes, and was eager to see how that knowledge could be reapplied at a different firm.

“What would it be like to do this again with the knowledge I have now?” asked Fong. “What things would I do differently? How would I improve upon it? How can I actually take that knowledge and leverage it in a way that helps others in the industry or my peers at Vise? Can I provide a perspective that they don’t necessarily have today?”

Fong was first connected with Vise while he was still at Dropbox. He spoke to Vise cofounder Runik Mehrotra on an explanatory call, and remembers feeling like no matter where his path took him, he wanted to stay connected to Mehrotra and Vise.

“This is somebody that just has something about him,” he said of Mehrotra. “There’s just like an ‘it’ factor that made me feel like I wanted to work with him.”

Fong says that recruiting during COVID, with extremely limited face-to-face contact, is one of the biggest challenges ahead for both himself and Vise in general.

#dropbox, #fintech, #tc

0

Roboflow raises $2.1M for its end-to-end computer vision platform

Roboflow, a startup that aims to simplify the process of building computer vision models, today announced that it has raised a $2.1 million seed round co-led by Lachy Groom and Craft Ventures. Additional investors include Segment co-founder Calvin French-Owen, Lob CEO Leore Avidar, Firebase co-founder James Tamplin and early Dropbox engineer Aston Motes, among others. The company is a graduate of this year’s Y Combinator summer class.

Co-founded by Joseph Nelson (CEO) and Brad Dwyer (CTO), Roboflow is the result of the team members’ previous work on AR and AI apps, including Magic Sudoku from 2017. After respectively exiting their last companies, the two co-founders teamed up again to launch a new AR project, this time with a focus on board games. In 2019, the team actually participated in the TC Disrupt hackathon to add chess support to that app — but in the process, the team also realized that it was spending a lot of time trying to solve the same problems that everybody else in the computer vision field was facing.

Image Credits: Roboflow

“In building both those [AR] products, we realized most of our time wasn’t spent on the board game part of it, it was spent on the image management, the annotation management, the understanding of ‘do we have enough images of white queens, for example? Do we have enough images from this angle or this angle? Are the rooms brighter or darker?’ This data mining of understanding in visual imagery is really underdeveloped. We had built a bunch of — at the time — internal tooling to make this easier for us,” Nelson explained. “And in the process of building this company, of trying to make software features for real-world objects, realize that developers didn’t need inspiration. They needed tooling.”

So shortly after participating in the hackathon, the founders started putting together the first version of Roboflow and launched the first version a year ago in January 2020. And while the service started out as a platform for managing large image data sets, it has since grown to become an end-to-end solution for handling image management, analysis, pre-processing and augmentation, up to building the image recognition models and putting them into production. As Nelson noted, while the team didn’t set out to build an end-to-end solution, its users kept pushing the team to add more features.

Image Credits: Roboflow

So far, about 20,000 developers have used the service, with use cases ranging from accelerating cancer research to smart city applications. The thesis here, Nelson said, is that computer vision is going to be useful for every single industry. But not every company has the in-house expertise to set up the infrastructure for building models and putting it into production, so Roboflow aims to provide an easy to use platform for this that individual developers and (over time) large enterprise teams can use to quickly iterate on their ideas.

Roboflow plans to use the new funding to expand its team, which currently consists of five members, both on the engineering and go-to-market side.

The Roboflow racoon.

The Roboflow racoon. Image Credits: Roboflow

“As small cameras become cheaper and cheaper, we’re starting to see an explosion of video and image data everywhere,” Segment co-founder and Roboflow investor French-Owen noted. “Historically, it’s been hard for anyone but the biggest tech companies to harness this data, and actually turn it into a valuable product. Roboflow is building the pipelines for the rest of us. They’re helping engineers take the data that tells a thousand words, and giving them the power to turn that data into recommendations and insights.”

#arkansas, #cloud-computing, #computing, #craft-ventures, #data-mining, #dropbox, #firebase, #france, #hackathon, #lachy-groom, #lob, #recent-funding, #roboflow, #startups, #tc, #technology, #y-combinator

0

Dropbox shifts business product focus to remote work with Spaces update

In a September interview at TechCrunch Disrupt, Dropbox co-founder and CEO Drew Houston talked about how the pandemic had forced the company to rethink what work means, and how his company is shifting with the new requirements of a work-from-home world. Today, the company announced broad changes to Dropbox Spaces, the product introduced last year, to make it a collaboration and project management tool designed with these new requirements in mind.

Dropbox president Timothy Young says that the company has always been about making it easy to access files wherever you happen to be and whatever device you happen to be on, whether that was in a consumer or business context. As the company has built out its business products over the last several years, that involved sharing content internally or externally. Today’s announcement is about helping teams plan and execute around the content you create with a strong project focus.

“Now what we’re basically trying to do is really help distributed teams stay organized, collaborate together and keep moving along, but also do so in a really secure way and support IT, administrators and companies with some features around that as well, while staying true to Dropbox principles,” Young said.

This involves updating Spaces to be a full-fledged project management tool designed with a distributed workforce in mind. Spaces connects to other tools like your calendar, people directory, project management software — and of course files. You can create a project, add people and files, then set up a timeline and assign and track tasks, In addition, you can access meetings directly from Spaces and communicate with team members, who can be inside or outside the company.

Houston suggested a product like this could be coming in his September interview when he said:

“Back in March we started thinking about this, and how [the rapid shift to distributed work] just kind of happened. It wasn’t really designed. What if you did design it? How would you design this experience to be really great? And so starting in March we reoriented our whole product road map around distributed work,” he said.

Along these same lines, Young says the company itself plans to continue to be a remote first company even after the pandemic ends, and will continue to build tools to make it easier to collaborate and share information with that personal experience in mind.

Today’s announcement is a step in that direction. Dropbox Spaces has been in private beta and should be available at the beginning of next year.

#cloud, #collaboration, #drew-houston, #dropbox, #enterprise, #project-management, #remote-work, #storage, #tc

0

Python creator Guido van Rossum joins Microsoft

Guido van Rossum, the creator of the Python programming language, today announced that he has unretired and joined Microsoft’s Developer Division.

Van Rossum, who was last employed by Dropbox, retired last October after six and a half years at the company. Clearly, that retirement wasn’t meant to last. At Microsoft, van Rossum says, he’ll work to “make using Python better for sure (and not just on Windows).”

A Microsoft spokesperson told us that the company also doesn’t have any additional details to share but confirmed that van Rossum has indeed joined Microsoft. “We’re excited to have him as part of the Developer Division. Microsoft is committed to contributing to and growing with the Python community, and Guido’s on-boarding is a reflection of that commitment,” the spokesperson said.

The Dutch programmer started working on what would become Python back in 1989. He continued to actively work on the language during his time at the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology in the mid-90s and at various companies afterward, including as Director of PythonLabs at BeOpen and Zope and at Elemental Security. Before going to Dropbox, he worked for Google from 2005 to 2012. There, he developed the internal code review tool Mondrian and worked on App Engine.

Today, Python is among the most popular programming languages and the de facto standard for AI researchers, for example.

Only a few years ago, van Rossum joining Microsoft would’ve been unthinkable, given the company’s infamous approach to open source. That has clearly changed now and today’s Microsoft is one of the most active corporate open-source contributors among its peers — and now the owner of GitHub . It’s not clear what exactly van Rossum will do at Microsoft, but he notes that there’s “too many options to say” and that “there’s lots of open source here.”

#computing, #dropbox, #github, #google, #google-app-engine, #microsoft, #microsoft-windows, #programmer, #programming-languages, #python, #tc

0

Former Dropbox CFO Ajay Vashee is joining the powerhouse venture firm IVP in January

Ajay Vashee — who spent the last eight years at Dropbox, rising from the head of finance to CFO over his tenure and helping to take the company public in 2018 — is joining the powerhouse venture firm IVP in January.

It’s the realization of plans established long ago by Vashee, who fell in love with venture years ago and has always known he wanted to return to it, though he wasn’t sure when or where that night happen. Indeed, he says that when he announced that he was leaving Dropbox in early August to join the world of venture capital, he didn’t know where he would land. He instead “wanted my intentions out there.”

It was an effective tactic, from the sounds of things. Vashee hints that he talked with numerous firms, deciding that later-stage IVP was the best fit for a variety of reasons, from the team fit to the experience he’d gained at Dropbox, helping to navigate the company through multiple stages of growth, including both as a private and then a public company.

As an added bonus, he isn’t starting until January, giving him a little extra time to spend with his extended family in the Bay Area and, most importantly, with his young daughters, ages 4 and 1.

Vashee, who attended to Columbia and headed to Morgan Stanley as an analyst right out of college, first fell in love with venture during his second job, which was a senior associate with NEA where he spent four years. “I absolutely loved investing and wasn’t planning to leave the join a company, but the opportunity to join Dropbox came up, and, knowing that I ultimately wanted to build a career as an investor, it if felt like something I couldn’t pass up.”

Though a generalist at NEA, Vashee says he will be focused on enterprise software — including companies focused on collaboration and finance automation — at IVP, whose team he got to know at Dropbox after they led the company’s Series B round. (“They helped us build our board, they were a sounding board for so many strategic decisions, and always hustled for us.”)

Vashee has already made some personal bets in the area, including investing in startups Metronome, Mosaic, and Layer.

He’ll suggests that he’ll be spending a lot more time thinking about the going-public process, now that many choice in addition to traditional IPOs are on the table. Interestingly, he says that if he were taking Dropbox public today, an option like a direct listing is something he’d want to evaluate.

Unsurprisingly, he says a handful of IVP partners serve on the boards of companies that are right now evaluating tie-ups with special purpose acquisition companies or SPACs, too.

In either case, he stresses that companies eyeing the public market need to be prepared, noting that the “operational readiness and rigor” that was instilled at Dropbox has proved “invaluable” to the company. Adds Vashee, “I don’t think the IPO process is broken, but has room for improvement.”

IVP announced its last fund — its biggest to date — in September 2017, closing at the time on $1.5 billion in capital. Given that three years have elapsed and that fund sizes have only continued to balloon, the firm is poised to announce an even bigger vehicle any day now.

One of the firm’s highest-profile investors, Todd Chaffee, has already said that he won’t be actively investing that new fund, following a 20-year run.

#dropbox, #hiring, #ivp, #talent, #tc, #venture-capital

0

The Freewrite Traveler is an outstanding, but expensive, dedicated portable writing laptop

As a hardware startup, Astrohaus stands apart because of its unique offerings focused specifically on writers and writing. Its debut product, the Freewrite, looked like an old-school travel typewriter with an e-ink screen. Now, it’s back with a new device it’s been working on for the past couple of years: The Freewrite Traveler. This more portable e-ink typewriter has a clamshell design and isn’t much larger than a Nintendo Switch, making it a flexible, go-anwyhere writing companion.

The basics

Astrohaus began teasing the Traveler a few years ago, before eventually launching an Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign in November 2018 to get it made. The crowdfunding was very successful, raising over $600,000 on the platform before the campaign ended, and then another $200,000+ in pre-orders after that. Like many hardware efforts, it encountered a few delays relative to its original delivery timeline, but now the Freewrite Traveler is shipping out to pre-order customers.

Image Credits: Darrell Etherington

In terms of specs, it has up to four weeks of battery life with regular usage, and weighs under two pounds, with a folding design that’s roughly half the surface area of most laptops. The screen on the top half is an e-ink display, and there’s a sub-screen for providing info like network status. The bottom half houses the keyboard, which boasts over 2mm of travel for a great keypress feel.

The case is plastic, as are most of the components, and the exterior is a glossy black. The Traveler connects via wifi, like the original Freewrite, and allows you to register an account to sync to up to three separate folders of documents. When out of wifi range, your work is stored locally, and it can sync to the cloud service of your choice via Freewrite’s integrations whenever you’re connected.

Design and features

The Traveler’s design is all about portability and convenience, while retaining the core usability features that make the original Freewrite such an ideal device for focused writing. The clamshell design is intentionally large enough to fit that full-sized keyboard comfortably, but keeps the screen small like with the original, which makes it more portable and ensures that distractions are kept to a minimum – aided by the fact that all you can do on it is type text, since there are no apps, browser or other functions.

Astrohaus has stayed very close to their original vision for the Traveler, with some minor tweaks including the hinge design. The end result is a light and durable-feeling portable digital typewriter, with a keyboard that feels excellent to type on – better than any laptop in my experience. The keyboard is really the star of the show here, since this is a purpose-built device created for typing. The travel feels ample, especially for a notebook-style device, and the raised, rounded keycap wells make it easy to touch type comfortably all day if you want.

Image Credits: Darrell Etherington

The display, while small, provides excellent legibility and contrast, though it’s worth noting that you’ll have to supply your own light source, because as with the original Freewrite, there’s no backlight or frontlight built in, and e-ink doesn’t provide its own light like LED.

E-ink is incredibly power efficient, however, which is why you’ll get so much useful life out of the Traveler. In my testing, it’s been operating on its original charge for nearly two weeks now, which is in line with the Astrohaus estimates.

The Traveler’s case features a piano black glossy exterior, which looks great, but quickly picks up fingerprints. And existing Freewrite users might notice that the display has a slightly glossy sheen as well, where the original was fully matte. That’s because of a thin piece of optically transparent plastic that goes across the entire width of the clamshell to protect the e-ink display against the keyboard, according to Astrohaus. To me, it hasn’t been an issue in terms of usability or quality, just something to note in terms of differences.

Image Credits: Darrell Etherington

Astrohaus has created a design that stands out, regardless of what you think of the piano black finish. The contrast of the black with the white interior gives it a unique, quirky and attractive design that helps ensure you’ll never confuse the Traveler with any other gadget. And the materials keep it lightweight and durable for easily taking it with you anywhere you might want to go.

The Traveler’s hinge allows it it to open up to roughly 135 degrees, which is a good position for laptop typing. It can also be positioned at any angle less than that for when you have it elevated at a table or desk.

Bottom line

The Freewrite Traveler is a unique device, with a special appeal for people who are hyper-focused on a writing tool that offers all the benefits of cloud-connectivity with none of the downsides of a multipurpose tool like a laptop or computer. It can sync to Dropbox, Evernote or Google Drive so that you can easily create a cross-device workflow for finishing up manuscripts and drafts, but on its own, the Traveler will ensure you remain focused on the task at hand – and enjoy yourself while doing so.

A portable, digital writing device like this one isn’t unique in the world – many distraction-free writing enthusiasts use the Pomera line of products from Japan for this purpose. But Astrohaus is unique in providing hardware tailor-made for North American and European markets, and they’ve done an amazing job at delivering on the potential of this device even in a field of relatively few competitors.

The Traveler is fairly expensive at $599, but there’s truly nothing else like it, if what you want is a laser-focused writing device that combines portability with great ergonomics, long-lasting battery and cloud storage convenience.

#articles, #astrohaus, #computing, #dropbox, #e-ink, #e-book, #evernote, #freewrite, #gadgets, #google, #hardware, #hardware-startup, #indiegogo, #industrial-design, #japan, #laptop, #laser, #microsoft-surface, #nintendo, #reviews, #tc, #typewriter, #writing

0

Dropbox begins shift to high efficiency Western Digital Shingled Magnetic Recording disks

Last year, Dropbox talked about making a shift to Shingled Magnetic Recording or SMR disks for short because of the efficiency they can give a high volume storage platform like theirs. Today, Western Digital announced that Dropbox was one of the first companies to qualify their Ultrastar® DC HC650 20TB, host-managed SMR hard disks.

Dropbox’s modern infrastructure story goes back to 2017 when it decided to shift most of its business from being hosted on AWS to building their own infrastructure. As they moved through the process of making that transition in the following years, they were looking for new storage technology ideas to help drive down the cost of running their own massive storage system.

As principal engineer James Cowling told TechCrunch last year, one of the ideas that emerged was using SMR:

What emerged was SMR, which has high storage density and a lower price point. Moving to SMR gave Dropbox the ability to do more with less, increasing efficiency and lowering overall costs — an essential step for a company trying to do this on its own. “It required expertise obviously, but it was also exciting to bring a lot of efficiencies in terms of cost and storage efficiency, while pulling down boundaries between software and hardware,” Cowling said.

As it turns out, Dropbox VP of engineering Andrew Fong says that the company has been working with Western Digital for a number of years and the new SMR technology is the latest step in that partnership.

Western Digital says that these drives deliver this cost savings through increased storage density and lower power requirements. “When considering exabyte-scale needs, and associated capital and operating cost of the data center, the long-term value in terms of lower cost-per-TB, higher density, low power and high reliability can help benefit the bottom line,” the company said in a statement.

Time will tell if these disks deliver as promised, but they certainly show a lot of potential for a high volume user like Dropbox.

#cloud, #dropbox, #enterprise, #hardware, #smr-hard-drives, #storage, #tc, #western-digital

0

The highest valued company in Bessemer’s annual cloud report has defied convention by staying private

This year’s Bessemer Venture Partners’ annual Cloud 100 Benchmark report was published recently and my colleague Alex Wilhelm looked at some broad trends in the report, but digging into the data, I decided to concentrate on the Top 10 companies by valuation. I found that the top company has defied convention for a couple of reasons.

Bessemer looks at private companies. Once they go public, they lose interest, and that’s why certain startups go in and out of this list each year. As an example, Dropbox was the most highly valued company by far with a valuation in the $10 billion range for 2016 and 2017, the earliest data in the report. It went public in 2018 and therefore disappeared.

While that $10 billion benchmark remains a fairly good measure of a solidly valued cloud company, one company in particular blew away the field in terms of valuation, an outlier so huge, its value dwarfs even the mighty Snowflake, which was valued at over $12 billion before it went public earlier this month.

That company is Stripe, which has an other worldly valuation of $36 billion. Stripe began its ascent to the top of the charts in 2016 and 2017 when it sat behind Dropbox with a $6 billion valuation in 2016 and around $8 billion in 2017. By the time Dropbox left the chart in 2018, Stripe would have likely blown past it when its valuation soared to $20 billion. It zipped up to around $23 billion last year before taking another enormous leap to $36 billion this year.

Stripe remains an outlier not only for its enormous valuation, but also the fact that it hasn’t gone public yet. As TechCrunch’s Ingrid Lunden pointed out in article earlier this year, the company has remained quiet about its intentions, although there has been some speculation lately that an IPO could be coming.

What Stripe has done to earn that crazy valuation is to be the cloud payment API of choice for some of the largest companies on the Internet. Consider that Stripe’s customers include Amazon, Salesforce, Google and Shopify and it’s not hard to see why this company is valued as highly as it is.

Stripe came up with the idea of making it simple to incorporate a payments mechanism into your app or website, something that’s extremely time-consuming to do. Instead of building their own, developers tapped into Stripe’s ready-made variety and Stripe gets a little money every time someone bangs on the payment gateway.

When you’re talking about some of the biggest companies in the world being involved, and many others large and small, all of those payments running through Stripe’s systems add up to a hefty amount of revenue, and that revenue has led to this amazing valuation.

One other company, you might want to pay attention to here, is UIPath, the robotic process automation company, which was sitting just behind Snowflake with a valuation of over $10 billion. While it’s unclear if RPA, the technology that helps automate legacy workflows, will have the lasting power of a payments API, it certainly has come on strong the last couple of years.

Most of the companies in this report appear for a couple of years as they become unicorns, watch their values soar and eventually go public. Stripe up to this point has chosen not to do that, making it a highly unusual company.

#bessemer-venture-partners, #cloud, #dropbox, #enterprise, #saas, #snowflake, #stripe, #tc, #uipath, #valuations

0

Dropbox CEO Drew Houston says the pandemic forced the company to reevaluate what work means

Dropbox CEO and co-founder Drew Houston, appearing at TechCrunch Disrupt today, said that COVID has accelerated a shift to distributed work that we have been talking about for some time, and these new ways of working will not simply go away when the pandemic is over.

“When you think more broadly about the effects of the shift to distributed work, it will be felt well beyond when we go back to the office. So we’ve gone through a one-way door. This is maybe one of the biggest changes to knowledge work since that term was invented in 1959,” Houston told TechCrunch Editor-In-Chief Matthew Panzarino.

That change has prompted Dropbox to completely rethink the product set over the last six months, as the company has watched the way people work change in such a dramatic way. He said even though Dropbox is a cloud service, no SaaS tool in his view was purpose-built for this new way of working and we have to reevaluate what work means in this new context.

“Back in March we started thinking about this, and how [the rapid shift to distributed work] just kind of happened. It wasn’t really designed. What if you did design it? How would you design this experience to be really great? And so starting in March we reoriented our whole product road map around distributed work,” he said.

He also broadly hinted that the fruits of that redesign are coming down the pike. “We’ll have a lot more to share about our upcoming launches in the future,” he said.

Houston said that his company has adjusted well to working from home, but when they had to shut down the office, he was in the same boat as every other CEO when it came to running his company during a pandemic. Nobody had a blueprint on what to do.

“When it first happened, I mean there’s no playbook for running a company during a global pandemic so you have to start with making sure you’re taking care of your customers, taking care of your employees, I mean there’s so many people whose lives have been turned upside down in so many ways,” he said.

But as he checked in on the customers, he saw them asking for new workflows and ways of working, and he recognized there could be an opportunity to design tools to meet these needs.

“I mean this transition was about as abrupt and dramatic and unplanned as you can possibly imagine, and being able to kind of shape it and be intentional is a huge opportunity,” Houston said.

Houston debuted Dropbox in 2008 at the precursor to TechCrunch Disrupt, then called the TechCrunch 50. He mentioned that the Wi-Fi went out during his demo, proving the hazards of live demos, but offered words of encouragement to this week’s TechCrunch Disrupt Battlefield participants.

Although his is a public company on a $1.8 billion run rate, he went through all the stages of a startup, getting funding and eventually going public, and even today as a mature public company, Dropbox is still evolving and changing as it adapts to changing requirements in the marketplace.

#cloud, #collaboration, #coronavirus, #covid-19, #drew-houston, #dropbox, #enterprise, #saas, #storage, #tc, #techcrunch-disrupt

0

Drew Houston will talk about building a startup and digital transformation during COVID at TechCrunch Disrupt

Dropbox CEO Drew Houston will be joining us for a one on one interview at this year’s TechCrunch Disrupt happening next week from September 14-18.

Houston has been there and done that as a startup founder. After attending Y Combinator in 2007 and launching at the TechCrunch 50 (the precursor to TechCrunch Disrupt) in 2008, he went on to raise $1.7 billion from firms like Blackrock, Sequoia and Index Ventures before taking his company public in 2018.

Houston and his co-founder Arash Ferdowsi had a simple idea to make it easier to access your stuff on the internet. Instead of carrying your files on a thumb drive or emailing them to yourself, as was the norm at that time, you could have a hard drive in the cloud. This meant that you could log on wherever you were, even when you were not on your own computer, and access your files.

Houston and Ferdowsi wanted to make it dead simple to do this, and in the days before smart phones and tablets,  they achieved that goal and grew a company that reported revenue of $467.4 million — or a run rate of over $1.8 billion — in its most recent earning’s report. Today, Dropbox has a market cap of over $8 billion.

And as we find ourselves in the midst of pandemic, businesses like Houston’s are suddenly hotter than ever, as companies are accelerating their move to the cloud with employees working from home needing access to work files and the ability to share them easily with colleagues in a secure way.

Dropbox has expanded beyond pure consumer file sharing in the years since the company launched with business tools for sharing files with teams, administering and securing them from a central console, and additional tools like a password manager, online vault for important files, full backup and electronic signature and workflow via the purchase of HelloSign last year.

Houston will join us at TechCrunch Disrupt 2020 to discuss all of this including how he helped build the company from that initial idea to where it is today, and he will talk about what it takes to achieve the kind of success that every startup founder dreams about. Get your Digital Pro Pass or your Startup Alley Exhibitor Package or even a Digital Pass for $45 to hear this session on the Disrupt stage . We hope you’ll join us.

#cloud, #cloud-storage, #collaboration, #disrupt-2020, #drew-houston, #dropbox, #file-sharing, #saas, #storage, #tc

0

Apple iCloud, Google Drive and Dropbox probed over ‘unfair’ T&Cs in Italy

Italy’s competition authority has opened an investigation into cloud storage services operated by Apple, Dropbox and Google, in response to a number of complaints alleging unfair commercial practices.

In a press release announcing the probe, the AGCM says it’s opened six investigations in all. The services of concern are Google’s Drive, Apple iCloud and the eponymous Dropbox cloud storage service.

As well as allegations of unfair commercial practices, the regulator said it’s looking into complaints of violations of Italy’s Consumer Rights Directive.

A further complaint alleges the presence of vexatious clauses in the contract.

We’ve reached out to the three tech giants for comment.

All three cloud storage services are being investigated over complaints of unfair practices related to the collection of user data for commercial purposes — such as a lack of proper information or valid consent for such commercial data collection — per the press release.

Dropbox is also being accused of failing to clearly communicate contractual conditions such as procedures for withdrawing from a contract or exercising a right to reconsider. Access to out-of-court dispute settlement mechanisms is also being looked at by the regulator.

Other contractual conditions probed over concerns of unfairness include clauses with sweeping rights for providers to suspend and interrupt the service; liability exemptions even in the event of loss of documents stored in the user’s cloud space; the possibility of unilateral modification of the contractual conditions; and the prevalence of the English version of the contract text over the Italian version.

In recent years the European Commission has made a pan-EU push for social media firms to clarify their T&Cs — which led to Facebook agreeing to plainer worded T&Cs last year, as well as making some additional tweaks, such as amending its power to unilaterally amend contracts.

#antitrust, #apple-icloud, #apps, #cloud, #dropbox, #europe, #google-drive, #italy, #regulation

0

Facebook’s photo porting tool adds support for Dropbox and Koofr

Facebook’s photo and video portability tool has added support for two more third party services for users to send data via encrypted transfer — namely: cloud storage providers Dropbox and (EU-based) Koofr.

The tech giant debuted the photo porting tool in December last year, initially offering users in its EU HQ location of Ireland the ability to port their media direct to Google Photos, before going on to open up access in more markets. It completed a global rollout of that first offering in June.

Facebook users in all its markets now have three options to choose from if they want to transfer Facebook photos and videos elsewhere. A company spokesman confirmed support for other (unnamed) services is also in the works, telling us: “There will be more partnership announcements in the coming months.”

The transfer tool is based on code developed via Facebook’s participation in the Data Transfer Project — a collaborative effort started last year, with backing from other tech giants including Apple, Google, Microsoft and Twitter.

To access the tool, Facebook users need to navigate to the ‘Your Facebook Information’ menu and select ‘Transfer a copy of your photos and videos’. Facebook will then prompt you to re-enter your password prior to initiating the transfer. You will then be asked to select a destination service from the three on offer (Google Photos, Dropbox or Koofr) and asked to enter your password for that third party service — kicking off the transfer.

Users will receive a notification on Facebook and via email when the transfer has been completed.

The encrypted transfers work from both the desktop version of Facebook or its mobile app.

Last month, the tech giant signalled in comments to the FTC ahead of a hearing on portability scheduled for later this month that it would be expanding the scope of its data portability offerings — including hinting it might offer direct transfers for more types of content in future, such as events or even users’ “most meaningful” posts.

For now, though, Facebook only supports direct, encrypted transfers for photos and videos uploaded to Facebook.

While Google and Dropbox are familiar names, the addition of a smaller, EU-based cloud storage provider in the list of supported services does stand out a bit. On that, Facebook’s spokesperson told us it reached out to discuss adding Koofr to the transfer tool after a staffer came across an article on Mashable discussing it as an EU cloud storage solution.

A bigger question is when — or whether — Facebook will offer direct photo portability to users of its photo sharing service, Instagram . It has not mentioned anything specific on that front when discussing its plans to expand portability.

When we asked Facebook about bringing the photo porting tool to Instagram, a spokesman told us: “Facebook have prioritised portability tools on Facebook at the moment but look forward to exploring expansion to the other apps in the future.”

In a blog post announcing the new destinations for users of the Facebook photo & video porting tool, the tech giant repeats its call for lawmakers to come up with “clearer rules” to govern portability, writing that: “We want to continue to build data portability features people can trust. To do that, the Internet needs clearer rules about what kinds of data should be portable and who is responsible for protecting that data as it moves to different services. Policymakers have a vital role to play in this.”

It also writes that it’s keen for other companies to join the Data Transfer Project — “to expand options for people and push data portability innovation forward”.

In recent years Facebook has been lobbying for what it calls ‘the right regulation’ to wrap around portability — releasing a white paper on the topic last year which plays up what it couches as privacy and security trade-offs in a bid to influence regulatory thinking around requirements on direct data transfers.

Portability is in the frame as a possible tool for helping rebalance markets in favor of new entrants or smaller players as lawmakers dig into concerns around data-fuelled barriers to competition in an era of platform giants.

#apple, #apps, #cloud-applications, #cloud-storage, #data-portability, #dropbox, #european-union, #facebook, #federal-trade-commission, #google, #google-photos, #instagram, #interoperability, #koofr, #microsoft, #policy, #social, #twitter

0

Oracle and Salesforce hit with GDPR class action lawsuits over cookie tracking consent

The use of third party cookies for ad tracking and targeting by data broker giants Oracle and Salesforce is the focus of class action style litigation announced today in the UK and the Netherlands.

The suits will argue that mass surveillance of Internet users to carry out real-time bidding ad auctions cannot possibly be compatible with strict EU laws around consent to process personal data.

The litigants believe the collective claims could exceed €10BN, should they eventually prevail in their arguments — though such legal actions can take several years to work their way through the courts.

In the UK, the case may also face some legal hurdles given the lack of an established model for pursuing collective damages in cases relating to data rights. Though there are signs that’s changing.

Non-profit foundation, The Privacy Collective, has filed one case today with the District Court of Amsterdam, accusing the two data broker giants of breaching the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in their processing and sharing of people’s information via third party tracking cookies and other adtech methods.

The Dutch case, which is being led by law-firm bureau Brandeis, is the biggest-ever class action in The Netherlands related to violation of the GDPR — with the claimant foundation representing the interests of all Dutch citizens whose personal data has been used without their consent and knowledge by Oracle and Salesforce. 

A similar case is due to be filed later this month at the High Court in London England, which will make reference to the GDPR and the UK’s PECR (Privacy of Electronic Communications Regulation) — the latter governing the use of personal data for marketing communications. The case there is being led by law firm Cadwalader

Under GDPR, consent for processing EU citizens’ personal data must be informed, specific and freely given. The regulation also confers rights on individuals around their data — such as the ability to receive a copy of their personal information.

It’s those requirements the litigation is focused on, with the cases set to argue that the tech giants’ third party tracking cookies, BlueKai and Krux — trackers that are hosted on scores of popular websites, such as Amazon, Booking.com, Dropbox, Reddit and Spotify to name a few — along with a number of other tracking techniques are being used to misuse Europeans’ data on a massive scale.

Per Oracle marketing materials, its Data Cloud and BlueKai Marketplace provider partners with access to some 2BN global consumer profiles. (Meanwhile, as we reported in June, BlueKai suffered a data breach that exposed billions of those records to the open web.)

While Salesforce claims its marketing cloud ‘interacts’ with more than 3BN browsers and devices monthly.

Both companies have grown their tracking and targeting capabilities via acquisition for years; Oracle bagging BlueKai in 2014 — and Salesforce snaffling Krux in 2016.

 

Discussing the lawsuit in a telephone call with TechCrunch, Dr Rebecca Rumbul, class representative and claimant in England & Wales, said: “There is, I think, no way that any normal person can really give informed consent to the way in which their data is going to be processed by the cookies that have been placed by Oracle and Salesforce.

“When you start digging into it there are numerous, fairly pernicious ways in which these cookies can and probably do operate — such as cookie syncing, and the aggregation of personal data — so there’s really, really serious privacy concerns there.”

The real-time-bidding (RTB) process that the pair’s tracking cookies and techniques feed, enabling the background, high velocity trading of profiles of individual web users as they browse in order to run dynamic ad auctions and serve behavioral ads targeting their interests, has, in recent years, been subject to a number of GDPR complaints, including in the UK.

These complaints argue that RTB’s handling of people’s information is a breach of the regulation because it’s inherently insecure to broadcast data to so many other entities — while, conversely, GDPR bakes in a requirement for privacy by design and default.

The UK Information Commissioner’s Office has, meanwhile, accepted for well over a year that adtech has a lawfulness problem. But the regulator has so far sat on its hands, instead of enforcing the law — leaving the complainants dangling. (Last year, Ireland’s DPC opened a formal investigation of Google’s adtech, following a similar complaint, but has yet to issue a single GDPR decision in a cross-border complaint — leading to concerns of an enforcement bottleneck.)

The two lawsuits targeting RTB aren’t focused on the security allegation, per Rumbul, but are mostly concerned with consent and data access rights.

She confirms they opted to litigate rather than trying to try a regulatory complaint route as a way of exercising their rights given the “David vs Goliath” nature of bringing claims against the tech giants in question.

“If I was just one tiny person trying to complaint to Oracle and trying to use the UK Information Commissioner to achieve that… they simply do not have the resources to direct at one complaint from one person against a company like Oracle — in terms of this kind of scale,” Rumbul told TechCrunch.

“In terms of being able to demonstrate harm, that’s quite a lot of work and what you get back in recompense would probably be quite small. It certainly wouldn’t compensate me for the time I would spend on it… Whereas doing it as a representative class action I can represent everyone in the UK that has been affected by this.

“The sums of money then work — in terms of the depths of Oracle’s pockets, the costs of litigation, which are enormous, and the fact that, hopefully, doing it this way, in a very large-scale, very public forum it’s not just about getting money back at the end of it; it’s about trying to achieve more standardized change in the industry.”

“If Salesforce and Oracle are not successful in fighting this then hopefully that send out ripples across the adtech industry as a whole — encouraging those that are using these quite pernicious cookies to change their behaviours,” she added.

The litigation is being funded by Innsworth, a litigation funder which is also funding Walter Merricks’ class action for 46 million consumers against Mastercard in London courts. And the GDPR appears to be helping to change the class action landscape in the UK — as it allows individuals to take private legal action. The framework can also support third parties to bring claims for redress on behalf of individuals. While changes to domestic consumer rights law also appear to be driving class actions.

Commenting in a statement, Ian Garrard, managing director of Innsworth Advisors, said: “The development of class action regimes in the UK and the availability of collective redress in the EU/EEA mean Innsworth can put money to work enabling access to justice for millions of individuals whose personal data has been misused.”

A separate and still ongoing lawsuit in the UK, which is seeking damages from Google on behalf of Safari users whose privacy settings it historically ignored, also looks to have bolstered the prospects of class action style legal actions related to data issues.

While the courts initially tossed the suit last year, the appeals court overturned that ruling — rejecting Google’s argument that UK and EU law requires “proof of causation and consequential damage” in order to bring a claim related to loss of control of data.

The judge said the claimant did not need to prove “pecuniary loss or distress” to recover damages, and also allowed the class to proceed without all the members having the same interest.

Discussing that case, Rumbul suggests a pending final judgement there (likely next year) may have a bearing on whether the lawsuit she’s involved with can be taken forward in the UK.

“I’m very much hoping that the UK judiciary are open to seeing these kind of cases come forward because without these kinds of things as very large class actions it’s almost like closing the door on this whole sphere of litigation. If there’s a legal ruling that says that case can’t go forward and therefore this case can’t go forward I’d be fascinated to understand how the judiciary think we’d have any recourse to these private companies for these kind of actions,” she said.

Asked why the litigation has focused on Oracle and Saleforce, given there are so many firms involved in the adtech pipeline, she said: “I am not saying that they are necessarily the worst or the only companies that are doing this. They are however huge, huge international multimillion-billion dollar companies. And they specifically went out and purchased different bits of adtech software, like BlueKai, in order to bolster their presence in this area — to bolster their own profits.

“This was a strategic business decision that they made to move into this space and become massive players. So in terms of the adtech marketplace they are very, very big players. If they are able to be held to account for this then it will hopefully change the industry as a whole. It will hopefully reduce the places to hide for the other more pernicious cookie manufacturers out there. And obviously they have huge, huge revenues so in terms of targeting people who are doing a lot of harm and that can afford to compensate people these are the right companies to be targeting.”

Rumbul also told us The Privacy Collective is looking to collect stories from web users who feel they have experienced harm related to online tracking.

“There’s plenty of evidence out there to show that how these cookies work means you can have very, very egregious outcomes for people at an individual level,” she added. “Whether that can be related to personal finance, to manipulation of addictive behaviors, whatever, these are all very, very possible — and they cover every aspect of our lives.”

Consumers in England and Wales and the Netherlands are being encouraged to register their support of the actions via The Privacy Collective’s website.

In a statement, Christiaan Alberdingk Thijm, lead lawyer at Brandeis, said: “Your data is being sold off in real-time to the highest bidder, in a flagrant violation of EU data protection regulations. This ad-targeting technology is insidious in that most people are unaware of its impact or the violations of privacy and data rights it entails. Within this adtech environment, Oracle and Salesforce perform activities which violate European privacy rules on a daily basis, but this is the first time they are being held to account. These cases will draw attention to astronomical profits being made from people’s personal information, and the risks to individuals and society of this lack of accountability.”

“Thousands of organisations are processing billions of bid requests each week with at best inconsistent application of adequate technical and organisational measures to secure the data, and with little or no consideration as to the requirements of data protection law about international transfers of personal data. The GDPR gives us the tool to assert individuals’ rights. The class action means we can aggregate the harm done,” added partner Melis Acuner from Cadwalader in another supporting statement.

We reached out to Oracle and Salesforce for comment on the litigation.

Oracle EVP and general counsel, Dorian Daley, said:

The Privacy Collective knowingly filed a meritless action based on deliberate misrepresentations of the facts.  As Oracle previously informed the Privacy Collective, Oracle has no direct role in the real-time bidding process (RTB), has a minimal data footprint in the EU, and has a comprehensive GDPR compliance program. Despite Oracle’s fulsome explanation, the Privacy Collective has decided to pursue its shake-down through litigation filed in bad faith.  Oracle will vigorously defend against these baseless claims.

A spokeswoman for Salesforce sent us this statement:

At Salesforce, Trust is our #1 value and nothing is more important to us than the privacy and security of our corporate customers’ data. We design and build our services with privacy at the forefront, providing our corporate customers with tools to help them comply with their own obligations under applicable privacy laws — including the EU GDPR — to preserve the privacy rights of their own customers.

Salesforce and another Data Management Platform provider, have received a privacy related complaint from a Dutch group called The Privacy Collective. The claim applies to the Salesforce Audience Studio service and does not relate to any other Salesforce service.

Salesforce disagrees with the allegations and intends to demonstrate they are without merit.

Our comprehensive privacy program provides tools to help our customers preserve the privacy rights of their own customers. To read more about the tools we provide our corporate customers and our commitment to privacy, visit salesforce.com/privacy/products/

#advertising-tech, #amazon, #bluekai, #booking-com, #consumer-rights-law, #data-protection, #data-protection-law, #data-security, #digital-rights, #dropbox, #europe, #european-union, #gdpr, #general-data-protection-regulation, #google, #information-commissioners-office, #ireland, #krux, #law, #lawsuit, #london, #marketing, #mastercard, #netherlands, #online-tracking, #oracle, #privacy, #salesforce, #spotify, #tc, #united-kingdom

0

72 hours left to apply to Startup Battlefield at Disrupt 2020

Want to launch your early-stage startup in front of the largest Disrupt audience in history? The opportunity clock is ticking, and you have just 72 hours left for a chance to compete head-to-head against top startups from around the world at Disrupt 2020. Beat the deadline — apply to compete in Startup Battlefield before June 19 at 11:59 pm (PT).

This Startup Battlefield may be virtual, but there’s nothing virtual about the benefits to your startup. Exposure to a huge global audience means more investors, more media, more opportunity of every size and stripe. Then there’s the not-so-small matter of the $100,000 cash prize. Imagine what that could do for your bottom line. And let’s not forget the coveted Disrupt Cup and serious bragging rights. Those count, too.

Here’s how the virtual Startup Battlefield works. Applying to and competing in the Battlefield is free, and TechCrunch takes no equity. You’re eligible to apply if you can jump through these small hoops.

  • Your company is early stage
  • It has an MVP with a tech component (software, hardware or platform)
  • Your company has received minimal major media coverage

Every application we receive is thoroughly screened by the TechCrunch editorial team. They’re looking for creativity and game-changing potential, and they take the process Very. Seriously. The startups they select — typically between 15 and 20 — will compete virtually during Disrupt 2020, which runs from Sept. 14 – 18.

You never enter a battle arena without proper training, and all competing teams will have weeks of free coaching from the TechCrunch editorial team. It’s intense, but you’ll come out of the experience with a finely tuned demo, a boffo business model and killer presentation skills.

During round one, each Battlefield team gets six-minutes to pitch to a panel of judges (think top VCs and technologists). All that coaching comes in handy when, after your pitch, the judges grill you for another six minutes.

The judges then choose a handful of teams to move into the final round. On the last day of the virtual conference, the finalists pitch again to an entirely new set of judges. When the dust settles, only one outstanding startup will claim the title, the Disrupt Cup and $100,000.

Here’s the thing about Startup Battlefield. There may be only one champ, but every competing team receives massive world-wide exposure, tons of media and investor interest and a huge opportunity to take their business to the next level — even in these challenging times.

Want more perks? Buckle up.

Startup Battlefield competitors also get to exhibit in Digital Startup Alley, and they receive a bevy of benefits.

  • CrunchMatch, our AI-powered networking platform, to set up virtual 1:1 meetings with investors, media or potential customers
  • Leading Voices Webinars: Hear top industry minds share their strategies for adapting and thriving during and after the pandemic. Startup Alley exhibitors get exclusive access to this webinar series.
  • A launch article posted on TechCrunch.com
  • A YouTube video promoted on TechCrunch.com
  • Free subscription to Extra Crunch.Free passes to future TechCrunch events

Competitors also join the ranks of the Startup Battlefield Alumni — this impressive group has collectively raised $9 billion and generated 115 exits. We’re talking companies like Vurb, Dropbox, GetAround, Mint, Yammer, Fitbit and many more. Talk about prime networking.

The deadline expires on June 19 at 11:59 pm (PT). You have just 72 hours left to apply to compete in Startup Battlefield at Disrupt 2020. Don’t delay. Jump into the arena and grab this opportunity for all it’s worth.

Is your company interested in sponsoring or exhibiting at Disrupt 2020? Contact our sponsorship sales team by filling out this form.

#articles, #artificial-intelligence, #crunchmatch, #disrupt-2020, #dropbox, #economy, #fitbit, #getaround, #startup-battlefield-at-disrupt-sf-2020, #startup-company, #startups, #techcrunch, #verizon-media, #vurb, #websites, #yammer

0

Dropbox introduces slew of new features for business and home users

Dropbox has always been about file storage, sharing and collaboration, but it wants to stretch beyond those roots and provide customers, especially those using the Dropbox Plus paid tier with a set of additional capabilities that typically would have involved using third-party products. This includes password management, an online vault and full computer backup. While it was at it, the company also introduced a couple of updates for business users too.

For starters, Dropbox wants to help people manage the multitude of passwords across our lives. This is moving into territory of password managers like LastPass or 1Password. As you would expect, the password manager feature stores all your passwords and autofills the password for you.

Dropbox is also getting into the online vault business. The idea with these tools is to give you a secure place to store your important documents in a digital context, rather than using a safe deposit box as in the past. You can share a pin with trusted loved ones to give access to these documents like a will or insurance policy in the event of an emergency.

The company is also getting into the backup business, giving Dropbox Plus users the ability to regularly backup the entire contents of your PC or Mac and retrieve it fully should you lose your computer or experience a full out machine failure.

Dropbox Plus users will soon be able to do a full machine backup. Image Credit: Box

All of these products are in Beta right now, but Dropbox says they should be available to all Dropbox Plus customers in the coming weeks. Dropbox Plus customers pay $9.99 a month for 2 TB of storage and many other features. By adding these additional features, Dropbox is sweetening the offering and making it more attractive to fork over the monthly fee beyond pure storage space.

The company also is offering a new embedded eSignature feature for Dropbox Business users with HelloSign, the company it acquired last year. Unsurprisingly, the company is making HelloSign the default eSignature solution and providing an easy workflow to send, sign and return documents without leaving Dropbox. This is in Beta right now.

In addition, the company is offering a new App Center where business users can find other cloud services that integrate easily into Dropbox like Google Docs, Slack and Zoom.

Lastly to make life easier for home users, the company is introducing a family account for up to six family members. It includes a common storage for sharing items like family photos and important documents, as well as private storage for each person. This will be available for Dropbox Plus customers initially and more widely later in the year, according to the company.

While this is a broad set of features, it’s designed to expand the utility of the Dropbox family of products, provide greater separation between the free and paid tiers, while helping Dropbox users balance work and family life from one product.

#cloud, #dropbox, #hellosign, #password-managers, #saas, #security, #storage, #tc

0

Emerging from stealth, Octant is bringing the tools of synthetic biology to large scale drug discovery

Octant, a company backed by Andreessen Horowitz just now unveiling itself publicly to the world, is using the tools of synthetic biology to buck the latest trends in drug discovery.

As the pharmaceuticals industry turns its attention to precision medicine — the search for ever more tailored treatments for specific diseases using genetic engineering — Octant is using the same technologies to engage in drug discovery and diagnostics on a mass scale.

The company’s technology genetically engineers DNA to act as an identifier for the most common drug receptors inside the human genome. Basically, it’s creating QR codes that can flag and identify how different protein receptors in cells respond to chemicals. These are the biological sensors which help control everything from immune responses to the senses of sight and smell, the firing of neurons; even the release of hormones and communications between cells in the body are regulated.

“Our discovery platform was designed to map and measure the interconnected relationships between chemicals, multiple drug receptor pathways and diseases, enabling us to engineer multi-targeted drugs in a more rational way, across a wide spectrum of targets,” said Sri Kosuri, Octant’s co-founder and chief executive officer, in a statement.

Octant’s work is based on a technology first developed at the University of California Los Angeles by Kosuri and a team of researchers, which slashed the cost of making genetic sequences to $2 per gene from $50 to $100 per gene.

“Our method gives any lab that wants the power to build its own DNA sequences,” Kosuri said in a 2018 statement. “This is the first time that, without a million dollars, an average lab can make 10,000 genes from scratch.”

Joining Kosuri in launching Octant is Ramsey Homsany, a longtime friend of Kosuri’s, and a former executive at Google and Dropbox . Homsany happened to have a background in molecular biology from school, and when Kosuri would talk about the implications of the technology he developed, the two men knew they needed to for a company.

“We use these new tools to know which bar code is going with which construct or genetic variant or pathway that we’re working with [and] all of that fits into a single well,” said Kosuri. “What you can do on top of that is small molecule screening… we can do that with thousands of different wells at a time. So we can build these maps between chemicals and targets and pathways that are essential to drug development.”

Before coming to UCLA, Kosuri had a long history with companies developing products based on synthetic biology on both the coasts. Through some initial work that he’d done in the early days of the biofuel boom in 2007, Kosuri was connected with Flagship Ventures, and the imminent Harvard-based synthetic biologist George Church . He also served as a scientific advisor to Gen9, a company acquired by the multi-billion dollar synthetic biology powerhouse, Ginkgo Bioworks.

“Some of the most valuable drugs in history work on complex sets of drug targets, which is why Octant’s focus on polypharmacology is so compelling,” said Jason Kelly, the co-founder and CEO of Gingko Bioworks, and a member of the Octant board, in a statement. “Octant is engineering a lot of luck and cost out of the drug discovery equation with its novel platform and unique big data biology insights, which will drive the company’s internal development programs as well as potential partnerships.”

The new technology arrives at a unique moment in the industry where pharmaceutical companies are moving to target treatments for diseases that are tied to specific mutations, rather than look at treatments for more common disease problems, said Homsany.

“People are dropping common disease problems,” he said. “The biggest players are dropping these cases and it seems like that just didn’t make sense to us. So we thought about how would a company take these new technologies and apply them in a way that could solve some of this.”

One reason for the industry’s turn away from the big diseases that affect large swaths of the population is that new therapies are emerging to treat these conditions which don’t rely on drugs. While they wouldn’t get into specifics, Octant co-founders are pursuing treatments for what Kosuri said were conditions “in the metabolic space” and in the “neuropsychiatric space”.

Helping them pursue those targets, since Octant is very much a drug development company, is $20 million in financing from investors led by Andreessen Horowitz .

“Drug discovery remains a process of trial and error. Using its deep expertise in synthetic biology, the Octant team has engineered human cells that provide real-time, precise and complete readouts of the complex interactions and effects that drug molecules have within living cells,” said Jorge Conde, general partner at Andreessen Horowitz, and member of the Octant board of directors. “By querying biology at this unprecedented scale, Octant has the potential to systematically create exhaustive maps of drug targets and corresponding, novel treatments for our most intractable diseases.”

#andreessen-horowitz, #articles, #biology, #biotechnology, #chemicals, #dna, #dna-sequencing, #dropbox, #drug-development, #drug-discovery, #emerging-technologies, #executive, #flagship-ventures, #general-partner, #genetic-engineering, #genetics, #george-church, #ginkgo-bioworks, #google, #harvard, #jason-kelly, #jorge-conde, #pharmaceutical, #synthetic-biology, #tc

0

CRV’s Saar Gur wants to invest in a new wave of games built for VR, Twitch and Zoom

Saar Gur is adept at identifying the next big consumer trends earlier than most: The San Francisco-based general partner at CRV has led investments into leading consumer internet companies like Niantic, DoorDash, Bird, Dropbox, Patreon, Kapwing and ClassPass.

His own experience stuck at home during the COVID-19 pandemic spurred his interest in three new investment themes focused on the next generation of games: those built for VR, those built on top of Twitch and those built for video chat environments as a socializing tool.

TechCrunch: We’ve been in a “VR winter,” as it’s been called in the industry, following the 2014-2017 wave of VC funding into VR drying up as the market failed to gain massive consumer adoption. You think VR could soon be hot again. Why?

Saar Gur: If you track revenues of third-party games on Oculus, the numbers are getting interesting. And we think the Quest is not quite the Xbox moment for Facebook, but the device and market response to the Quest have been great. So we are more engaged in looking at VR gaming startups than ever before.

What do you mean by “the Xbox moment,” and what will that look like for VR? Facebook hasn’t been able to keep up with demand for Oculus Quest headsets, and most VR headsets seem to have sold out during this pandemic as people seek entertainment at home. This seems like progress. When will we cross the threshold?

#augmented-reality, #consumer-internet, #coronavirus, #covid-19, #crv, #dropbox, #entertainment, #extra-crunch, #gaming, #hardware, #kapwing, #market-analysis, #niantic, #oculus-quest, #saar-gur, #social, #startups, #tc, #twitch, #twitch-tv, #unity, #venture-capital, #virtual-reality, #xbox-one

0

Equity Monday: Intel covets Moovit, two early stage rounds, and Uber’s earnings

Good morning and welcome back to TechCrunch’s Equity Monday, a jumpstart for your week.

Equity had a busy last few days, so to help you catch up: Friday’s episode was a lot of fun (Duolingo, Figma, OMERS, and aquafaba), and we also dropped an Equity Shot on Saturday, digging into the first major technology earnings week.

But this morning we were busy digging through what’s happened over the last few days, and what’s to come. Here’s the rundown:

We wrapped asking that’s going to come for companies that were still speculative businesses before the slowdown. They’re going to vaporize, right?

Equity drops every Monday at 7:00 AM PT and Friday at 6:00 am PT, so subscribe to us on Apple PodcastsOvercastSpotify and all the casts.

#dropbox, #duolingo, #facebook, #fundings-exits, #intel, #lyft, #moovit, #paypal, #pinterest, #roku, #shopify, #silver-lake, #spotify, #startups, #techcrunch, #uber

0

Tech for good during COVID-19: Sky-high gifts, extra help, and chips

When Roger Lee, the co-founder of Human Interest, heard that San Francisco imposed shelter-in-place orders, he started blogging about layoff news and posting crowdsourced lists of employees who were laid off. His goal was to increase awareness about layoffs and give recruiters a place to search for candidates.

However, one week and 40 startup layoffs later, Lee saw his blog was not going to be able to keep up with the massive number of cuts happening across the country. So, Layoffs.fyi tracker was born and currently receives tens of thousands of visitors every day.

As for how he’s balancing the tracker and Human Interest? Lee noted that he has transitioned to work at the company from a board-level capacity.

Lee’s work is one example of many inspiring initiatives we’re going to showcase this week. Let’s get into the list.

  1. Plan your future adventures. A number of sites have popped up to encourage people to buy gift cards and support their local restaurants. But what about their local tourism industries? Adam Faris, a student at the University of Oregon, launched a coronavirus initiative with a team of folks to support businesses in the action sports and adventure experience space. Faris has aggregated a number of businesses offering discounts on skiing, surfing, whitewater rafting and more to encourage people to support small businesses.
  2. Extra help for developers. YouTeam, a Y Combinator-backed marketplace for building remote development teams, is launching a volunteer developers group. Any startups working on COVID-19-related issues can turn to the group to find technical support to aid them, and apply for free development hours of front-end, back-end or UX support. 
  3. Tiny steps, big impact. Tiny Organics, a child nutrition company, is pledging $10,000 annually to Partnership for Healthier America, which works to make sure kids have access to health food. Tiny Organics also created a special edition plant-based meal, Michelle My Broccoli Belle, and will donate 100% of the proceeds to the Food Bank for New York City. 
  4. Help from above. Skydio is donating dozens of self-flying drones to first responders across the country, as part of its Emergency Response program. The drones do not have speakers and will not be used as a communication mechanism, but instead as a way for fire and police units to see potential issues close up. Skydio will provide training and support at no cost. Additionally, the company is teaming up with Frontline Support, a nonprofit, to source and deliver more than a million units of PPE equipment to the University of Washington Hospital System through its logistical and supply chain systems. 
  5. A safe space. Equal space (=SPACE), co-working space for multicultural, LGBTQ, and women-owned startups, has opened up its doors virtually. =Space is offering resources online for freelancers and small business owners that includes training, workshops, productivity sessions, and wellness talks all free of charge.
  6. Aid for healthcare workers. Work & Co partnered with employees at Adobe, Dropbox, and a number of medical students to create a tool to connect healthcare workers with access to grocery delivery, discounted childcare, and free mental health services. The tool was made with input from doctors, nurses, and medical school faculty to help workers meet their basic needs, beyond PPE. It is currently available in New York.
  7. Bandcamp waives fees. Bandcamp, a music company that lets users directly support artists, announced that it will be waiving fees for artists for a number of select days. Last time the platform waived fees, sales for music and merchandise pulled in $4.3 million for artists. It’s a refreshing way to support artists in a world where concerts are no longer a reality. Read more here
  8. A pro bono portal. The American Bar Association and a justice tech company, Paladin, teamed up to create a portal to connect those impacted by COVID-19 to lawyers working pro bono. LegalZoom and Clio are also connected to the project. Read more here.
  9. Hiring help. Binc, a recruitment company that works with companies like Tiktok, Stripe, Nest, Groupon, and more, has launched a free program to help tech workers find jobs. The company is placing employees in engineering, product, design, market, and recruitment professionals in jobs for no charge until the end of the month.
  10.  Chipping in for COVID. Morning Brew is holding an online poker tournament-turned-fundraiser to raise money for Frontline Foods, which supports restaurants and feeds frontline workers. A donation of $100 is required to play.

#articles, #bandcamp, #business, #co-founder, #coronavirus, #covid19, #dropbox, #economy, #entrepreneurship, #giving, #groupon, #health-food, #human-interest, #layoff, #legalzoom, #nest, #new-york, #new-york-city, #oregon, #paladin, #pro-bono, #roger-lee, #san-francisco, #skydio, #small-business, #startup-company, #stripe, #tc, #tiktok, #unemployment, #university-of-oregon, #y-combinator

0

Software companies give back ground after an impressive rebound

Software as a service companies, modern software firms often referred to by the acronym “SaaS,” had a tough day in the public markets. The basket of companies, as tracked by Bessemer’s cloud index, dropped 4.49% during regular trading hours.

The losses gave back some of the software industry’s recent gains, advances that had followed a sharp decline in the value of their shares as concerns relating to a COVID-19-induced economy hit the richly valued cohort of companies hard; indeed, at one point earlier in the year, SaaS and cloud companies were down around 38% from the 2020 highs.

Those losses, however, largely proved transitory. A steep rally in SaaS and cloud shares brought their decline from all-time highs (set earlier this year) to just about 10% yesterday afternoon. Then, today, the firms lost over 4%. This puts SaaS and cloud shares in between a correction and a bear market.

Earlier today, TechCrunch covered a number of “green shoots” for software companies relating to churn, and some back-of-the-napkin funding data for the month of April thus far. To see SaaS firms drop as sharply as they did right after rings of comedic timing.

The impact of today’s trading was varied. Atlassian fell a modest 2.9%, Dropbox 3.3%, Zuora 5.99% and Slack a sharp 9.54%.

But despite all the worries about churn and changing sentiment, SaaS companies are still richly valued compared to historical norms. How rich? Bessemer notes on its website the companies it tracks in its index were valued at an enterprise value/revenue multiple of 12.9x.

It’s kind enough that SaaS trades on a multiple of revenue, and not EBITDA; to see that revenue multiple sit comfortably above 10 is a gift. So far, however, a durable one. Investors have not lost their shine to SaaS shares, today’s trading notwithstanding.

In broader indices, the day’s damage was less severe, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average falling 2.67%, the S&P 500 falling 3.07% and Nasdaq Composite dropping 3.48%.

#as-a-service, #atlassian, #cloud-computing, #cloud-infrastructure, #computing, #dropbox, #earnings, #enterprise-software, #software, #software-as-a-service, #tc, #techcrunch, #zuora

0

Zoom’s Security Woes Were No Secret to Business Partners Like Dropbox

Dropbox privately paid top hackers to find bugs in software by the videoconferencing company Zoom, then pressed it to fix them.

#coronavirus-2019-ncov, #cyberattacks-and-hackers, #cyberharassment, #dropbox, #hacker-one, #science-and-technology, #software, #yuan-eric-s, #zoom-video-communications, #zoombombing

0